Grandpa owned a shoe repair and sales business on Selma Avenue in Springfield, Ohio, for about 50 years. The clock they gave us used to hang in the bathroom of the old shoe shop. How it came to be in the shop at all is part of this clock's interesting history.
During the hard days of the depression, back in the 1930's, a man came into the shop one day. The soles of his shoes had holes in them and he had no money to pay for the repair. He did, however, have this old school house clock that he could trade for new soles on his shoes. Grandpa agreed to trade for the repair, though he had no real need for the clock. So, not really needing the clock, grandpa hung it in the little 3 foot by 3 foot bathroom. It was pretty much forgotten ... at least until I came along!
I don't really remember how old I was when I first discovered the clock. When I was younger, we lived in Dayton, Ohio. Later, in my teen years, we moved to the country outside of Tipp City, Ohio. We didn't get to go to the shoe shop often. Usually we went to see grandma and grandpa on Sunday when my father was off of work, so the shop was closed. But occasionally, we would go there during the week. There were also those special times during the summers when I would go and stay with grandma and grandpa for a whole week.
Whenever I arrived at the shop, the first thing I would do was to head for the bathroom, climb up on the toilet, and wind the clock. No one else ever seemed to notice the clock, and if I wasn't there, the clock didn't get wound.
I wonder how many people you know are a lot like that old clock — just kind of shoved to the back of life with no one ever noticing them and with no one to wind them up or to help them do the job for which God created them?
One of my favorite people in the Bible is a man named Barnabas. The name Barnabas literally means, "Son of Exhortation" or "Son of Encouragement." From what we read about him in the Bible, he lived up to that name. He knew how to find, include, and put to work those forgotten, shoved back, people.
Barnabas was the one who brought Saul (who would one day become known as the apostle Paul) to Jerusalem and introduced him to the leaders when everyone still remembered him as being a key man who arrested and killed Christians. (Acts 9:27) When there was a need for people to be taught and encouraged to live for God, the early church sent Barnabas to do the job. (Acts 11:22) When the young man John Mark needed some encouraging because of some problems he was having with the apostle Paul, Barnabas went with him. (Acts 15:39) Because of Barnabas' encouragement, Paul later wrote, "Only Luke is with me. Get [John] Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry." (2 Timothy 4:11)
What if I hadn't taken an interest in it and saw it for the marvelous instrument it was designed to be? It very well might have been thrown out or still be sitting in the back of some thrift shop unused and unloved.
How many people do you know who are not being what God designed for them to be? How many people do you come into contact with that are unused and unloved? How many people are there in your life that need a Barnabas — need you to be their Barnabas?
My prayer for you today is that you will have the eyes to see people as God does — as he created them to be. Then, I pray that you have the ability to encourage them in some way to be God's people and rescue them from the scrap heaps and back rooms of life.